Thursday, June 16, 2011

Learning Outcomes

Oh yeah! Forgetting this would be bad........

Our stated learning outcomes for this course are to "consume, create, and connect" in the digital age. Did I meet those learning outcomes?

1. I consumed my digital culture book of choice, The Wisdom of Crowds, using Google Books and another online version. It was tedious because the Google book had missing pages that I had to read around and the online library version had terrible formatting. All in all, it made me appreciate both the traditional codex and the possibilities of legitimate e-readers--that is, not my laptop. Good learning experience.

The consuming of social media as a form of scholarly research was a particularly novel experience for me. I barely even knew that blogging existed before this class, but I was required to read the blogs of my peers on a regular basis. Also, I created profiles on Goodreads and Diigo and received feeds on my Google Reader. I read book reviews in diverse online locations and read online forums about Borges. I'm not sure how my consumption was in comparison to other students, but its breadth has been far vaster in the past month and a half than in the past nineteen years of my life.

2. Now, I like to write. I write short stories, poems, essays, research papers, you name it. But never before in my life have I written, written, written, written the way I have in this class. The knowledge that I was creating content that had legitimate application in the lives of my peers was simultaneously terrifying and thrilling. I struggled at first to post on my blog regularly, but I improved with time and even began to enjoy the experience. I learned that varying the lengths of my blog posts is not an evil and that informal writing is ok!

3. I have never been so inundated with emails before. My goodreads messages come back to my email; my blog comment interchanges are sent to my email; my Diigo updates are sent to my email; the list goes on. I know that I had the ability to set controls on those emails, but I struggled to find a balance with getting too much information and not getting enough information. Do I feel connected? Yes!

But beyond the passive connectedness of receiving alerts, I have discovered that the internet is net of people...interconnected. I can send a message to a man in India asking for help with a project on an Argentine writer whose work has been translated into English so I can read it. That same work has been the inspiration for artwork worldwide--artwork that has been curated by people I can email, even if they live in London. The world is so, so small.

I will be the first to admit that this class has been a continuous learning curve for me. I have failed at multiple times to consume, create, and connect at the level that I was asked to. But I have also been more successful than I ever have been before in my life at mastering an entirely new way of thinking about literature.

I know that we talk in this class about how the internet is just a tool and the real focus is to create content. But I disagree. This is where form meets function. A blog is not just a tool; it is the content itself. The long vertical columns; the picture of myself smiling vapidly on the side; the flower template I (legally) downloaded. The digital age is like this--literature is not just printed words on a page anymore; it is a thing in constant flux, which may be found on a screen or a page or a sound byte. I love this. As far as I can determine, my attempt to learn to write about literature in the digital age has been a success.

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